"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

"Fool me once, shame on you ...

... Fool me twice, shame on me!"  ~(Ancient Chinese proverb).

Fool me THREE TIMES?!!!

Good God!!! - That should result in forehead meets desk violently.

I've already put up two posts on email scams (Scam, and Another email scam - a bit more dangerous.)

I opened an email yesterday morning, that appeared to be from a blogger with whom I correspond.

I was dumb enough to click on a link in it, without thinking that his "Take this one very seriously" message was just not the way he writes.

It opened up a window on my browser to a site for one of those "Work at home" schemes, and then I noticed that it opened up another window to the same site.

Attempts to close either window produced a pop-up widget wanting me to click on a button to navigate away from the window.

That's when I thought, "OH, SH*T!!!"

I used the Task Manager to shut down the windows, logged off, and began a system scan for viruses. A check on the "Event Report" of my Panda anti-virus and firewall software showed that a connection attempt had been blocked by it at the time I had stupidly clicked on that link.

While the scan was still running, I sent an email to the folks that I usually send my "Look at me! Look at me!!" messages to, warning ...
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Most likely, that blogger's email account got hijacked for a bunch of email addresses to send that thing to, and that was probably what was intended if the connection on MY machine hadn't been blocked by the firewall.

But, just in case, you'll notice no links or attachments whatever in this email. (If you get your email on Yahoo, or a similar web service, you might see a couple of attachments. - That's normal. They're data files with formatting info; you'll find them on ALL of your email in those systems.)
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I also alerted that blogger, who at that time was apparently already aware of it, and dealing with it.

At present, it appears that everything is Ok, and that Panda did exactly what it was meant to do and prevented hijacking of my email information.

It was probably something like this that caused the events described in Scam, but I'm confident enough of my firewall to go back to my normal email format, links and all. I do not believe that you are likely to get any counterfeit messages purporting to be from me.

All the same however, a good antivirus and firewall is a worthy piece of insurance.

I'm beginning to learn that using a computer when you're half asleep can be as dangerous as driving in that condition.

So, how did I end up with Panda as my antivirus program?

I got this computer at the end of 2003, when I knew my job was going to be outsourced three months down the line and I felt I needed to replace an eight-year old machine as I would be searching online a lot, while futilely looking for a new job in my sixties.

It came with Norton antivirus installed, and I stayed with it and updated it (If it ain't broke, don't fix it!) until a couple of years ago when they no longer supported the version I had. So, I would have to buy a newer version and discovered that, as with most software, upgrades can be expensive and usually want more memory (more, in fact, than I had).

Therefore, I looked at alternatives.

Panda (from Panda Security, in Bilbao, Spain) had a very good reputation, was  reasonably priced (including a firewall) and not such a memory hog (getting along just fine with 128 Mb if you don't turn on one of their special (but not really essential) features that requires 512 Mb minimum memory - I only have 256 Mb).

If you already have an antivirus and firewall that does the job, excellent. No reason not to stay with it.

But, if circumstances (like mine) force you to consider an alternative, I absolutely recommend them.

I had used them, on my previous machine, replacing already installed software for similar reasons as mentioned above.  At that time, I had problems installing it because of conflicts with the existing software and leftover files from same.

This time (on my current computer), before installing it, I looked up and noted every directory I could find that appeared exclusively associated (very, very important) with the existing Norton software, then ran the "Uninstalls" for it and afterwards cleaned out and deleted any of those directories that the uninstall process may have missed. As a result, this time, the Panda installation was more straightforward and uneventful.

FYI - Your mileage may vary. :-)

(What IS it about Bilbao, Spain?  My bank is now owned by a group there. For years, I've used Compass Bank, long a major banking association in the Sunbelt.  In 2007, it became BBVA Compass, and NO, that doesn't mean Better Business of Virginia or anything like that. It means Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, who bought it out then. (Trivia, having absolutely no relevance to the post at hand.))
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